It’s Friday, so that means it's panel time.
A battle between Congress and the White House, set off by an anonymous whistleblower and believed to involve the government of Ukraine, according to two former US officials who spoke to the Washington Post, has moved into the public eye. The whistleblower, an intelligence official who worked at the White House, said US President Donald Trump made a "promise" to a foreign leader, which the official found sufficiently alarming to alert Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson. Atkinson found that the complaint reached the threshold of an "urgent concern," which would require him to notify congressional oversight committees on the matter. However, Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, has been unwilling to provide Congress with the details of what Trump allegedly did, causing some to charge that he is improperly protecting the president. What happened?
The Pentagon said Thursday that the US will leave it up to Saudi Arabia to decide whether there is sufficient proof accuse Iran of being behind the drone strikes that hit two Saudi Aramco oil facilities last weekend. “We'll wait until the final assessment's completed with the Saudis and that they've made the declaration,” Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters. Really? Well, that’s a change of tone. “This was an attack on Saudi Arabia. We're supporting their investigation. We have teams on the ground working with them, but we're not going to get ahead of their conclusions.” What are we to make of this?
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned Thursday that if the US or Saudi Arabia attacks Iran, an "all-out war" is sure to follow. "We don't want war, we don't want to engage in a military confrontation," Zarif told CNN, noting that any conflict would result in "a lot of casualties." The latest source of tension between the three nations is last Saturday's drone strikes on Saudi oil facilities, which temporarily halved Saudi Arabia's oil production and for which the Yemeni Houthis have claimed responsibility. However, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday that the attacks were "an act of war" against Saudi Arabia and that they involved not just drones, but cruise missiles, pointing the finger at Tehran. President Trump tweeted September 15 that the US military was "locked and loaded" to respond against the perpetrators, though he said the following day that the US would prefer not to go to war. Where will all of this tension lead?
"Californians, the Trump administration said Thursday, breathe the same air, and live in pretty much the same environment, as the rest of the country. Their vehicles spew the same gases. So their emissions standards should be the same as everyone else’s," the San Francisco Chronicle reported in August 2018 on the Environmental Protection Agency's proposal to revoke federal waiver under the Clean Air Act allowing the state to enact more demanding vehicle emissions standards than the rest of the US, colloquially known as the tailpipe emissions waiver. On Thursday, the administration officially revoked the waiver, but a legal battle is sure to ensue.
In an attempt to keep the economy from faltering, the US Federal Reserve lowered interest rates Wednesday from 2.25% to just below 2%. While President Trump has called for the Fed to cut rates, the reduction is much more modest than he might have liked, emphasizing the gap between how the Fed and the White House view the American economy as the 2020 elections loom. Is this effort to keep the economy strong being made because of the projections of a recession and the data that continue to point in that direction?
All those stories and more!
Caleb Maupin — Journalist and political analyst who focuses his coverage on US foreign policy and the global system of monopoly capitalism and imperialism.
Dr. Jack Rasmus — Professor of economics at Saint Mary's College of California and author of "Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes: Monetary Policy and the Coming Depression."
David Schultz — Professor of political science at Hamline University and author of "Presidential Swing States: Why Only Ten Matter."
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